December 21, 2010

National database of IMEI number on cards

A national data base containing the unique identity of all mobile phones , known as the IMEI number – to block usage of handsets that are stolen or lost is set to become a reality, after leading telcos extended their support to this initiative.

Sector regulator Trai, which recently proposed this initiative, will now put in place the guidelines and mechanisms to create this database, and will also decide the mode of funding for this project.

This national initiative will enable mobile service providers to block all services to those handsets that are stolen, in an attempt to prevent their misuse.

Telcos say this will discourage theft, but add it will not a 100% foolproof solution as resellers of stolen handsets can ‘illegally avail technologies that will enable them to reprogram or clone IMEI numbers’. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is a unique 14-digit code used to identify valid devices.

“Blocking of IMEI is an effective solution to discourage mobile theft in the country as it will prevent the usage of stolen handset which is re-sold in the market to some extent. However, it alone cannot serve the purpose as the handsets can be easily reprogrammed and sold in the market,” the Cellular Operators Association of India , the body representing GSM operators, said in their response to Trai.

This industry body has suggested that this central registry be maintained either by the government, or the regulator or by done by an authorised third party, and it be linked to the GSMA database having the white/grey/black list of all the handsets available in the market to reduce the efforts, risk of error and cost of updating the database separately by each service provider.

This would also ensure that a global database of stolen devices is maintained. This also allows devices stolen in India to be blocked in other countries thereby maximising the value of blacklisting as it is generally recognised that stolen devices travel across national borders, the COAI added.

Ericsson , the world’s largest telecoms gear maker, which also runs the mobile networks of Bharti Airtel and other telcos, has asked the regulator to adopt laws similar to that of the UK and make re-programming of IMEI numbers a criminal offence. This position has been supported by several mobile phone operators.


Foursquare Adds Photos and Comments

Foursquare_iphone_logo.pngLocation-based checkin service Foursquare has just announced the addition of photos and commenting features, due to arrive within hours to users of its iPhone application. The features have already gone live on the website.

According to Foursquare, these two features were among the most requested from its users for months, a signal that, perhaps, folks are beginning to demand more social elements from check-in apps: rewards, either virtual or tangible, are just not enough.

A post on the official Foursquare company blog says that the added features make Foursquare "more useful and social," a statement that addresses the negative sentiments spouted by those who claim they "don't see the point" of check-in apps, and call them useless.

What's New?

Now, you can comment on your friends' check-ins, a feature which serves as an additional form of communication for the service's users. Previously, communication was limited to shouts, tips and comments on your own check-ins, the latter which could be syndicated to Twitter and Facebook. You can even add comments while browsing the website itself too, allowing for a second opportunity to interact with other users.

Perhaps even more anticipated than comments, however, is photos. The addition of photo posting "changes everything," reads the Foursquare blog. You can "see dishes before ordering them, figure out if a venue looks fun, or easily identify a hard-to-find spot."

Photos will be syndicated over to your history page on, transforming it into more interesting life-stream of sorts, where photos and comments will be preserved alongside your checkins.


The new comments feature is also integrated with iPhone's push notifications system and there are privacy settings that can apply to photos.

Pics, Please!

With this update, Foursquare is clearly responding to user feedback - even its most-engaged users are beginning to tire of the check-in for check-ins' sake, it seems. They want more than the occasional coupon or reward, badge or crown. Innovative photo-sharing startups like Instagram have been able to capitalize on users' desire to share comments and photos along with their location. However, on Instagram, the roles are reversed - photos come first, location second. With Foursquare, it's the other way around.

Foursquare even makes mention of Instagram in its post, noting that, as a Foursquare partner, photos taken with the app can be syndicated over to Instagram. With this comment, it almost sounds as if Foursquare thinks of Instagram as just another third-party application built on top of Foursquare's API (application programming interface), as opposed to its own standalone community.

Photos from Foodspotting and another location-sharing app picplz will now flow into Foursquare, too.

Although today's update is only for users of the iPhone app, Foursquare says that Android users will get a new app later this week, Palm and BlackBerry users will see an update in January and other major platforms will be addressed in early 2011.  In the near future, additional features will be added, says Foursquare: photos shared with Foursquare users will be able to be posted to Facebook and Flickr, comment tracking will be improved and photos will be archived in a "more useful place."